Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The farm connection

The perfect campsite; shade but no mud!


Saturday, August 11 was supposed to be a perfect night to view the annual Perseid meteor shower. I debated where to go to watch the sky light up, while also being close enough to Ann Arbor, a city about an hour south of me, to attend a production of West Side Story with my aunt and out-of-town cousins.

But what was the perfect location?

Why, the farm my mom where my mom grew up; the place I, as a kid, hung out in barns playing with the farm cats, or pretended to drive a tractor down the lane, while sitting on my uncle’s lap.

The backs of some of the barns, across a soybean field.

I have so many special memories of the farm and my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, my cousins.

Morning sun makes the barns glow.

So I was grateful to get permission to camp Saturday and Sunday nights near the back of the farm, in what used to be the orchard. Today it’s a beautiful mowed area with a mulberry tree, beautiful oak trees and a couple of very old pear trees, heavy with fruit. The whole area is surrounded by soybean fields, giving me long vistas to watch the sky.

Morning light on a misty soybean field.

If only the sky would cooperate. I had high hopes as I watched the sun set behind a neighboring barn.

Sunset on the first evening.

Saturday night I saw one meteor, just as I stuck my head out of the tent about 11:00 p.m. I set up the camera and messed with the settings for a bit.

There were more planes than meteors . There are two planes in this shot.

Behind me I could hear thunder. Above me the sky was rapidly becoming cloud covered, the weather front directly overhead.

Clouds begin to encroach on my night.

I ducked back into the tent moments before the first rain hit, and then listened as the storm wound up to pouring rain and gusty winds. At one point I considered running for the car, but figured I’d get soaked just getting out of the tent.

The storm pushed away around 1:30 in the morning and I settled in to sleep. No more sky watching for the rest of that night.

Sunday morning was damp with fog. Everything was dripping but the sunrise was pretty.

Sunrise, spectacular in a quiet sort of way.

I spent the day with visiting cousins, catching up, enjoying meals, and the production of West Side Story.

A pretty nice set for the story of the Jets and the Sharks.

By early evening I was heading back to my camp hoping for a re-do of the night before. It turns out they had rain while I was gone, and steam was rising up from the ground while water dripped from the trees. A little after 9 p.m. I could see ground fog coming my way across the soybean fields. Soon my entire campsite was surrounded in white mist.

Still, the sky seemed clear.

I tried again, but the fog and lights from the city made most of the stars disappear. Mostly what was visible was a planet to the south. So I worked with that for a little bit and then tucked myself into my tent and slept the rest of the night listening to the night noises.

See that planet up there above the tent? There’s a star or two too.

Monday morning arrived dripping wet. I wandered down the lane toward the barns I remember so well. It was early and I didn’t want to disturb the tenants living in the old farmhouse.

Lots of roof lines.

I quietly walked through the wet grass remembering playing in the corn crib, remembering the pigs streaming out of the barn doors, remembering where there once was a watering trough, a fence. A gate.

Ingenuity.

So many memories.

No I didn’t see a lot of meteors shooting across the sky, just three total over the two nights. But that’s alright. As I packed up the soggy tent and headed home, I was grateful for the connection to my mom on her birthday, and grateful for two nights on the farm.

A good couple of nights on the farm.

A big thanks to my cousin for graciously allowing me to camp in the old orchard of the farm he now owns. Thanks to him, too, for keeping the farm in the family and preserving so many memories for all of us.

The whole experience was priceless.

An original fence post.


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365 walks

I’m walking a challenge along with Robin over at breezes at dawn and who knows how many other people, each taking a walk every day for an entire year and posting on Facebook (and maybe other places too) each day one photo of what we’ve seen.

It was a great morning for a walk.

I’m a little over 100 days into it. In the beginning it was a bit intimidating, thinking about three hundred and sixty-five walks. But Robin made a good point. Nothing in the rules said how long the walk had to be. And as long as I don’t think about how many I have left to do, as long as I just think about today’s walk, well, it’s all good.

Some days I go for a walk down the road and through my neighborhood. Some days I drive to a park and walk a trail in the woods or a bike path along a lake shore. Once, in bad weather, I took myself to the mall for my walk. No matter where I go there’s always something interesting or pretty or both to capture.

The goldenrod is starting to bloom.

And some days it’s just Katie and me walking around the backyard. She likes those days best lately because it’s been way too hot for her to take a longer walk at any of her favorite parks. She says this will be a great challenge in cooler October or November or even December when the snow will start to fly.

Husband and I stayed out late last night, unusual for us, at an election party where we got to watch the returns come in and cheer when our candidate won the local primary. I’d never done that before, sit with a group of strangers hoping that it all turns out, cheering when it does. I hate politics but this year perhaps the need to become involved will supersede my need to avoid conflict. We’ll see, it certainly is fodder for another blog.

Joe Pye is tucked into all the wet places.

Anyway, I went to bed well after midnight, and Katie was up at her usual 3:30. It was tempting to try to go back to sleep on the sofa after she got the attention she was craving. And I did for a couple hours.

But while it was still morning and the air was reasonably cool I headed out to a park with the intent to walk four miles. I don’t know why four. It just seemed like a nice round number.

Leaning into the sun.

I didn’t want to go. I wanted to crawl back into bed, but Katie was in a mood and I was tired of arguing with her. All in all, the choice between hanging out with a needy dog and going for a walk turned out to be easy.

Leaves already turning?

What a beautiful day! From the parking lot there’s a mile long downhill through a meadow before the bike path turns into the woods. I got a lot of nice pictures out in the open, and then another nice group deeper in the woods. That’s what makes this a great park to walk in…until you have that mile long uphill back to the car.

A splash of unexpected color.

I had a lot of things to think about on this walk, and I hummed (quite loudly as there was no one else there) songs from Fiddler on the Roof, a musical I was lucky enough to see on Saturday evening. If I were a rich man….. A blessing on your head, mazel tov, mazel tov…Tradition!….Anatevka….

I wondered, as I did Saturday night, what kind of welcome Tevye, Golda and their two young daughters would find if they were to arrive in the United States today. Would they be granted entry given their town had been forcibly evacuated? Would the young girls be separated from their parents?

I hate to imagine what might happen to them today. But I also know that their passage to America and their life here wouldn’t have been easy in the early twentieth century either. That’s what makes politics hard; there are so many variables to every decision and policy.

Anyway.

As I walked I tried not to mourn summer. I missed so much of the Michigan summer when I was in Alabama, and suddenly it seems like school is starting and corn is ripening and goldenrod is blooming and summer is almost over.

Bursts of gold in the meadow.

I scolded myself for not being in the moment. After all there are still three weeks of August. And even though there was subtle signs everywhere of the impending fall, there was still plenty of green. Dark green, lime green, green glowing in the sun, green hiding deep in the woods, it’s definitely still summer here.

Light shining through.

Mostly.

So this long, rambling post is sort of a stream of consciousness thing, wrapping everything that’s been going on into one long walk. Talented kids putting on a wonderful performance on Saturday, dedicated people campaigning with all their hearts for a candidate they feel is better than who we have now, all morphed together on a golden Wednesday morning.

There were butterflies everywhere. And me with only my phone for a camera.

Four miles flew by and no concrete conclusions were reached.

Guess I’ll have to go on another walk tomorrow.

Darn.

Two miles out, two miles back.


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On the way there and back

On my way up to the Pigeon River State Forest, three hours away from home, I drove through some of my favorite farm country. Both on the drive up and the drive home four days later I was lucky enough to witness clouds building above beautiful farm country.

I knew you’d want to see (who doesn’t want to look at barns, right?) so I put together a little slide show.

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And even though I know these pink flowers are not native, and are in fact, invasive I couldn’t help but stop and grab a few photos because they’re just so darn pretty.

Pretty but invasive.

How can this be invasive?


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When we weren’t staring at the river…

We did score the best campsite in all of the Pigeon River Forest, nestled next to the river in all it’s gurgling glory. We could have sat there all day, but there was more to explore.

There’s a large elk heard residing in this park, with certain locations where you’re more likely to see them. We drove around one evening looking, but didn’t see any; I guess the elk hadn’t read the memo about where they were supposed to be. In 2014 we were luckier and saw three of them in almost exactly the spot where the map said they’d be. Now those elk knew how to follow directions!

This year I did see this guy, on our first day there, as we were driving to our campground on a narrow sandy road through the tall trees.

What you lookin at lady?

I caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye and screeched to a halt. My friend, who was driving ahead of me, kept on going so she didn’t get to see him. I felt privileged to be able to snap his picture as he gazed somberly back at me.

Aside from the elk this state land is known for beautiful lakes and wonderful hiking trails. You can walk through varying topography and plant life, from wet bogs and reedy lake shores to hilly pine forests and open meadows.

Care to go for a walk?

We did all of that. We hiked around Pickerell Lake on a beautiful afternoon, the sky filled with white puffy clouds and the lake a beautiful blue.

It was a perfect day for a hike around a lake.

We climbed to the top of Inspiration Point, where the ranger said you can almost see from horizon to horizon. He was right.

Walking through the meadow on the way up the hill.

It would be a perfect place for star gazing if you’re there on a night when the full moon isn’t beating down on you.

You can see forever from here.

We walked along the river and looked up the names of all the wildflowers we could find. We were surprised by just how many there were when you stopped to really look.

I’ve already forgotten the name of this one. A variety of coneflower I think.

Mostly we just enjoyed being outside in a beautiful place during a beautiful weekend. Even when there was a bit of rain.

Walking through a misty rain.

And in the morning, when it was time to pack up and leave I felt sad, but happy too, that I got to spend time in this magical place. I know I’ll be back, likely on a dark night with no moon and clear skies. There are stars out there just begging to be photographed and I’d like to try.

The sky wasn’t dark enough with the full moon coming up behind me.

Until next time Pigeon River State Forest! It’s nice to know you’re up there waiting for us to stop by again.

Wonder what secrets the forest holds over there?


It’s good to know that the river continues to dance over those rocks, singing it’s gentle and calming song, even when we’re in the midst of whatever gets in the way of happiness out here in the real world.

Until next time, Pigeon River.

I’m lucky to have such a wilderness so close to home, and I’m pleased to share it with all of you. If you’re ever this way, stop by and explore even a little of it.

You won’t be sorry you did.

All this and more is waiting for your visit!


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A river runs though it.

Entering the magical Pigeon River Forest.


I’m back from a three night camping trip in the Pigeon River State Forest, a place that features spacious camp sites, towering pines, hiking trails, pristine lakes, and of course, the Pigeon River. A friend and I were lucky enough to score what I consider the premiere site right on the river. We got to listen to the swift water pour over some rocks just feet from our tent and we spent a fair amount of time just sitting in chairs watching it move along.

The perfect spot to spend a few days.

Of course we weren’t always sitting mesmerized by the river. We ate a lot too. But I don’t think it was typical camping fare. No, we didn’t have the burgers and dogs, didn’t roast marshmallows over the fire. Instead my friend brought along gourmet stuff like this kale and brussel sprout salad and bread baked the day before at a restaurant from her hometown. And that was just Friday’s lunch!

Very overexposed, but I thought it was cool so I’m using it anyway.

Friday evening this guy wandered by, moving slowly up the river. I heard him splashing up the river before I could see him and I swear I thought he was a bear. So I had my camera ready.

Going fishing on Friday night.

I’m sort of glad he wasn’t a bear. Though that would have been very cool.

In the morning my friend went fly fishing too. That’s what you do on a swift and shallow river like the Pigeon. First there was assembling of the rod and the attaching of the perfect fly.

I’d need a magnifying glass to do this!

Then there were a few practice casts in the road.

Practice makes perfect.

And then she was off into the water!

Come on in, the water’s perfect!

I think she had a great time, though I don’t pretend to understand it all. No fish were caught, but she got to get into the river and I got to take pictures. So we were both happy.

Here fishy, fishy!

We saw a few other people in the water, notably a couple of brothers floating by on tubes.

Looks like so much fun!

I was jealous and the entire three days I was there I considered putting on my swimsuit and my water shoes and going upstream a bit and floating back to camp. I didn’t need a tube, I care my flotation devise on my person at all times. (Smile.) For some reason I just didn’t do it. That would probably be my only regret from this trip.

So this post is all about the river

The river moves on past me to it’s own destination.

But there are acres and acres of woods to explore, elk herds to find, stars to watch. What about those?

Light plays.

Guess you’ll have to stay tuned.

The old man in the woods.


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Cee’s black and white photo challenge: Bench

I need to catch up as I’ve been traveling again, this time to a state forest campground in central Michigan. As soon as I saw this bench at the top of Inspiration Point in the middle of the Pigeon River Forest, I knew it would work for Cee’s challenge.

You could see for miles.


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Music fills the sky

I love outdoor concerts, and Tuesday evening I was treated to a band concert played on a lovely stage facing a green hill filled with people enjoying the music.

Pretty music and a lovely venue.

The band is made up of musical professionals in Southeast Michigan. Band directors at school districts across the region and other musicians get together to rehearse and then put on a fun and varied concert for all of us.

These people are good!

It was a lot of fun, especially listening to some pieces that I’ve played myself. It was an entirely different experience to sit in the audience where I got to hear parts of the music I’d never heard before.

What a lovely evening. Children laughed and ran up and down a hill off to the side. Birds sang from the trees, and swallows swooped and twittered overhead.

Swallows turned and swooped to the music.

One little boy in particular wasn’t interested in playing with the other children. He was mesmerized by the band and continually tottered down to the front to get a closer view.

Look between the two adults….see him down there conducting the band?

His mom would come and get him, carry him back up the hill, but the next thing you knew he’d be down front again, engaged in the whole experience.

Sometimes when I’m enjoying a concert at a hall I imagine all those notes rising up and layering high on the ceiling. I think about all the music that’s been played in the hall over the years. I like to think it’s still there, tucked into the curtain material, etched into the paint. Floating in the air.

Accepting well deserved applause.

Tuesday night as I watched the birds flying overhead I thought about this music having no roof, rising up and up into the clouds where it could be enjoyed by the world. Like ripples in still water always moving outward, I imagined the music gliding up into the clouds with nothing to restrain it. Moving into the heavens and then into space.

That thought made me smile. And so did the Southeastern Michigan Wind Ensemble.

You can likely have a similar experience this summer. Check around your town, there’s probably a concert in a park near you. They are mostly free, just bring a chair and spend an evening watching birds and children chatter while you listen to music as it floats on it’s way up to forever.

And then, hopefully, you’ll have a sunset like the one we had on your drive home.

I had to pull off the road, but this picture doesn’t do the sky justice.

And it got better, morphing into this when I got out into the country near home:

Pretty stunning.

It was the perfect ending to a perfect evening.

A great group of musicians.


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Traveling girl checking in with her public

The pond at my park this morning!


Katie here. Well! I know you’ve missed me; I’ve been trying to get mama to let me post for weeks, but she can be awful selfish about her blog.

You and I know the truth, though. It’s all about me.

I am the princess of the family and a princess needs her soap box to stand on once in awhile. Wait. I think that’s wrong. I don’t need a soap box! I need a big box of treats to stand on! Yea! That’s it. Let me write that down so I can remind mama….one moment please.

OK. I’m back. Literally actually, I’m back from an extended vacation with mama and daddy to Alabama. Mama and I drove down near the beginning of June and daddy and I drove back up this week!

Me and my Alabama air conditioning vent.

Whew!! That was a long time to be away from my castle. But of course I just made the lake house my castle, and as it had a royal air conditioning vent for me to sleep on, it was just fine.

Anyway, I’m back in Michigan now and guess what? Mama took me to check out my park this morning!

Waiting for my mama to get done goofing off with her camera.

I haven’t been there in forever! I was so excited! Mama said we needed to go early in the morning before it got too hot.

Mama spent way too much time trying to take a picture of this grass.

We messed that up cause mama was sleeping. So we didn’t get out there till a little after 9 and it was already too hot! I let mama know by laying down every time she stopped to take pictures of stuff.

Really mama? More pictures of not me??

Which was a lot.

I don’t understand mama. We’re at my park and she’s busy taking pictures of stuff that is not me. Inconceivable! Who wants to look at pictures of not me?

Nature’s lace.

Mama noticed that I was laying down a lot. She said it broke her heart, and she decided we wouldn’t walk very far. And she was very careful to make sure I had shade when she was busy with her little camera, but sometimes I swear she forgot I was even there. One time I got mad at her so I lay down with my back to her.

This is a total waste of a perfectly good walk in my park mama!

And you know what she did? She went around the corner when I wasn’t looking and she waited to see what I would do! Well! As soon as I noticed she wasn’t there anymore I took off running to find her.

Mama!!!!

I don’t think it was very nice of her to laugh at me.

After that I didn’t ignore her as much, cause I had learned she can be a sneaky mama. She found some beautiful flowers on the way back to the car.

Look! It’s an outdoor bouquet!

I didn’t mind sitting near them for her. I sort of thought they smelled good, but mama said they didn’t really smell at all.

These smell like bacon!

Not for her maybe, but for a sheltie-girl they smelled real good.

Anyway, I sort of had fun even though it was hot and mama was distracted, and worst of all she forgot my treats! On the way back we saw a green heron standing on a picnic table and some really cool turtles. But mama didn’t have her big camera so there aren’t any pictures of that.

Such a pretty morning.

I told mama that was OK, you guys have good imaginations, you know what stuff looks like, right? Mama just sighed and said every time she goes out without her big camera she regrets it and then she said something about coming over to the park some morning without me.

We’re a team mama.

WHAT???? Mama! It’s called KATIE’S PARK for a reason. You better not try to visit it without me, cause I’ll know. Shelties are super smart and we know things.

So don’t even think about it!

You wouldn’t leave me behind…would you mama?


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Just a walk in the park

Felt good to be on the path again.


It’s a misty Sunday morning, cool compared to Alabama where I’ve been, and the chest pains seem to be a memory. Oh the back still aches, but it’s a more muted pain now, so it seemed a good time to take a walk.

Just to see if activity stirred things up again.

Wasn’t planning on getting off the path anyway.

With a hint of rain hovering over me I headed down the bike path at a local park. I was feeling guilty because I didn’t take Katie-girl, and she would have enjoyed the cool breeze.

Heck. She enjoys going to a park anywhere any time.

Sweet smelling milkweed

Still, I wanted to walk at a pace that wouldn’t agree with her. No time for sniffing every plant you know. But don’t tell her I stopped to take a few photos.

I guess my picture taking is similar to her plant sniffing.

So many shades of green!

Hardly anyone was out there so early on a rainy morning. I took advantage of that to jog a few steps. Very few because though walking didn’t do much to up the pain level, jogging seemed more problematic.

I guess it’s been awhile.

Yellow flowers lead up to my favorite tree.

It was only two miles, but it was a pretty two miles and I’m glad I went. My back still aches, but my chest didn’t hurt.

I’d say that’s progress.

Purple accents a good morning.